Monday, April 23, 2012

Review: "Uglies" Series Books 1-4

Uglies Series Books 1-4 by Scott Westerfeld
3.5 out of 5 stars averaged

I finished the last book in this series the other day, so I can finally review it all! I know I'm several, several years behind everyone else probably, but I'd never even heard of Scott Westerfeld before I found these at Half Price. Now I'm kind of obsessed lol. (I have the Peeps books to review too!) Also, it took me forever to find the last one and I had to buy it new, which was kind of annoying.

So, was this the best series I've ever read? Not really, but I enjoyed it overall and I'd definitely recommend it to those who love any of the other dystopian novels that are so popular right now. The premise is unique and there is plenty of fun, new technology. It's set around 300 years in the future and of course, the world has self-destructed due to its extreme oil consumption and been rebuilt in a better way. That's one of the few things I didn't like about these books (and actually a lot of dystopian novels in general)....the whole "save the environment or the whole world is going to go kaboom" thing. I mean, yes I agree it's important and all but is that the only way authors can think of to destroy the world?

Okay, the main character is Tally Youngblood. She is fifteen years old and can't wait to turn sixteen, not because she gets her drivers license but because she gets an operation to turn her Pretty. (I just realized I wrote the same summary as Goodreads almost word for word lol...I swear it was an accident!) Tally is an Ugly right now and she hates it. She wants to be a Pretty like her BFF Peris (male) and live in New Pretty Town where you get to party all the time and you don't have to worry about anything. Sounds great right?

While Tally is waiting to turn sixteen, she becomes friends with Shay, another Ugly. Tally and Shay get along great, playing pranks and tricks, going hoverboarding (kind of like in Back to the Future lol), and going to The Wasteland which is a huge broken down city that the Rusties (ie: us now) used to live in. But there's one thing about Shay that doesn't sit well with Tally: Shay doesn't want to be a Pretty. She tells Tally all about a place called The Smoke, where people live "naturally" and don't get the surgery. She wants Tally to go with her, but Tally is like "no way, I wanna be Pretty and party all the time." So Shay takes off and then lots of spoilery things happen. ;)

Tally is finally turning sixteen, but the day of her surgery she is taken to meet Special Circumstances director Dr Cable (Dr Evil) instead. The Doctor wants her to tell her how to get to The Smoke, assuming Shay left her instructions. Tally refuses until they threaten to make her an Ugly for life. Tally finally agrees and goes on a big long journey to The Smoke, following the weird riddle that Shay left for her. The trip was kind of boring at times, but once she gets to The Smoke, it picks up again. She meets up with Shay and also a youngish Ugly called David. Of course, Tally falls for David, even though he's pretty much hideous and even though Shay likes him too. And hey guess what? David likes Tally back. Hello, love triangle. There were some surprises at The Smoke and I enjoyed the twist at the end, but I'm not going to spoil it for those who haven't read it yet. So let's move on to book 2, shall we? (Unless you haven't read book 1, then you should stop right here Mister/Young Lady!)

Pretties was probably my favorite out of the series. (Although, according to Goodreads reviews, it's most people's least favorite so take that how you will!) Tally is finally Pretty, just like she always wanted and living in New Pretty Town with her BFF's Shay and Peris. And her new boy-toy, Zane. This girl goes thru boys more than anyone I've ever seen! She's having tons of fun being Pretty and everything is totally bubbly and dizzy-making. I know the "bogus" language got on a lot of people's nerves, but I kind of liked it. And I've totally used "dizzy-making" in real life now. (My sister looks at me like I'm crazy every time I do though lol.)

So Tally is enjoying being Pretty, but she feels like something is missing. She feels like a Pretty fraud and she doesn't know why. Then she and Zane find a letter written from her past Ugly self with some pills and everything starts to become clear. This book does tend to run the same plot-line as Uglies, but it has some twists. The pills are the cure to the "Pretty-headedness" that David's mom came up with at the end of book 1; Tally and Zane decide to take them together and disastrous things happen.

I do have to mention this and I apologize if it is triggering for anyone: the use of cutting and starving themselves to stay clearheaded was one of the most disturbing things in these books. I feel like it was very well-written, but at the same time, Westerfeld seemed to condone it. I don't know if others felt this way or not? I can understand explaining why someone would cut to get "Icy" and how they feel doing it, but to glorify it the way he just felt icky. These are books geared towards teenagers, mostly girls. Take some responsibility here man. Okay, off my soap box.

Specials is book 3 in the series, actually the final book in the original trilogy and you guessed it: Tally has had another surgery. She's now one of Dr. Cable's Special Circumstances, meaning she's a cop basically for the city. She's also a special Special; Shay has had her turned into a Cutter like herself. This group is super dangerous and lethal with unbreakable bones, razor-sharp teeth and fingernails, and all kinds of technology built into their bodies.

I enjoyed this book a lot, probably as much as Pretties, but it was really hard for me to like Tally in this one. Which I guess is the point. She's not supposed to be likable. But the way she treats Zane, who is damaged a bit from the previous book, is heartbreaking. *Highlight for spoiler if you have already read this book: She is totally disgusted with his tremors and "averageness". And when he died, I cried. Like for real, cried. /spoiler There is plenty of action in this one, but the ending felt a bit lacking to me. Another spoiler: Tally ends up staying Special and going off with David. I understand that she has grown and matured since the first book, but it still felt weird to me. /spoiler Overall though, it was a good conclusion for the series.

Extras is book 4 technically of the series, but can also be read as a stand-alone. I loved the cover of this one. Aya Fuse is the main character in this book, a 15 year old girl living in Japan 3 years after the end of Specials. It actually took me a long time to even realize they were in Japan lol...There are no longer Pretties and Uglies, but society is now based on your popularity rank. I really enjoyed the concept of this. Everyone has a face rank that is bumped up by how popular their feed is. Similar to Facebook and YouTube, the more friends and views you have, the higher your society ranking is and the more money you get from the government.

I think we can all definitely relate to this and even feel a little conceited about it sometimes. I mean, how many times do you check your blog stats to see how many views you've had in a day? Or get upset when you lose a friend on FB? Or obsessively see how many comments a review/video/picture has? This book takes that all to a new level.

Aya Fuse is obsessed with becoming popular and bumping her rank out of the 400,000s. She needs a big story to kick and she thinks she finds that when she meets up with the Sly Girls, a group that does killer tricks but stays totally anonymous at the same time. They agree to let her come along for a few tricks, including hoverboarding on a train, and she records them with secret cameras and her hovercam called Moggle. Let me just stop and say that I think Moggle is the cutest character in the whole series and I want one lol.

Okay, so Aya starts out just recording the Sly Girls' stunts but it turns into a huge secret other-wordly story that she is totally not in control of. I honestly didn't enjoy the second half of the book nearly as much as the first. There was too much preaching, ET aliens, "bigger story" here. Also, Tally Youngblood is back and not nearly as good a character as in the other books. I don't know, I think Westerfeld just wanted to write more fun technology stuff (which he is very, very good at) but didn't really think about the actual plot of the book and when it came time to end it, he was just like "oh, let's make it a good thing and how about a big party?" Yeah. 


  1. I have The Pretties sitting in my bookshelf. I haven't read it yet though. I got it at the free book thing at the library last year!

    1. You should give it a shot! And yay, free books!